Though Welding Aluminum is less suitable in MIG Welding machines, it can be done easily if the right procedure is followed. Mig Machines are effective on thick aluminum plates over 14 gauges. And quite simple to do because of it’s handy mechanism.
According to the studies of Universal Technical Institute, Once you get the right power settings and suitable wire feed speed, and ambient surface temperature, you can easily weld aluminum with a MIG welder. Simple, right? But for this, you need two things. The first one is patience, and second is right procedure of how to weld aluminum with a MIG welder. Patience is up to you; we can only show you the right way to move.
Is MIG or TIG Better For Welding Aluminum?
Both MIG(Metal Inert Gas) and TIG(Tungsten Inert Gas) can weld aluminum. But when It’s about comparison, it seems challenging. Some facts can help to do a comparison, such as – Machines mechanism, using procedure, welding effectiveness, surface consideration, and user’s comfort.
For Aluminum welding, according to the machine’s mechanism, TIG machines are more suitable Than MIG if the Aluminum welding plate is under 14 gauges. Otherwise, MIG is better. The Mig welding machine is easy to use and handy also. TIG welding is more effective than MIG welding. When it is about aluminum, surface consideration is a must factor. Tig machines are better in Mig in this fact.
Finally, the most crucial thing, the user’s comfort. Mig is better than Tig because of Its single-handed usability.
How to Weld Aluminum With a Mig Welder
Here the steps to weld aluminum with a MIG welder. These steps are organized evenly to forward the process with balance.
Step 1: Measure Material Thickness
Mig welding machines are more effective on thick Aluminum sheets(14-18 gauges). If the sheet is not thick enough, the excessive heat produced by the machine can melt the sheet and create pores. So, if the thickness matches, then you can go to the next step.
Step 2: Remove Oxidization
Aluminum is quick reactive to oxidization. So, before weld, it is necessary to clean the surface with wire brushes( Stainless wire brush). To avoid contaminating the base material, always clean with a wire brush that is used on aluminum only. Also, you can use clean sandpaper to do it.
Step 3: Choose The Right Gas
Pure Argon gas is needed to weld Aluminum with a Mig welder. As the studies show, the mixing of CO2 and Argon gas can’t be used because of the contamination issues. It is safe to keep the flow rate 20 to 30 cubic feet per hour.
Step 4: Set Your MIG Machine
Now your task is to set the machine in the correct order. To set the machine as it needs to be, you need to follow some steps like:
- If there is a steel liner, then change it to a plastic or Teflon liner because a steel liner can jam the wire.
- If the tip of the torch is a regular size one, then convert it to an “Aluminum” version oversize tip because overheated aluminum can jam the regular size tip.
- Use an Aluminum mig welding wire compatible for the Aluminum to be welded. (Ex. 5356 Grade, 4043-grade Aluminum wire)
- Set the roller tension as low as possible.
- Increase the power level up to one & a half times more than that is required to a steel plate of similar thickness.
- Rise the wire feed speed up to 100% of the required speed for a steel plate of similar thickness
The steps may look a bit fuzzy, but a 110V MIG welder can make it easier.
Step 5: Start Your Work
Since everything is in the right order, it is the time to start your work. Before you start your work, do not forget to take safety measures. And when welding aluminum, keep eyes that the surface won’t get overheated.
Safety Tips For Mig Welding
To make the MIG welding safe, some important safety rules should be followed. According to research, welding produces lots of heat, lots of harmful light, and toxic gas, which can be detrimental to several organs. So, you need to take a few steps to protect yourself.
- Welding helmets with side-shields: Protection from Over Heat, Spark, UV-radiation, Nanoparticles, and chemical burns.
- Respirators: Protection from the fumes and oxides that the welding process creates.
- Fire-resistant clothing: Protection from heat, fire, and radiation created in the welding process and shields from burns.
- Ear protection: protection from unwanted sounds and Noise.
- Boots and gloves: Flame-resistant gloves and rubber-soled, steel toe-capped safety shoes protect from electric shocks, heat, fire, burns, and falling objects.
Do You Need Gas To Mig Weld Aluminum?
Yes, the use of gas in welding aluminum is a must as it works as a shield to prevent oxygen and other gasses from contaminating the surface. But the gas needs to be 100% Argon. CO2 can’t be used in welding aluminum because of the reactivity. So, be careful when choosing the gas.
Why Do We Use Mig Welding?
MIG welding process is one of the most useful methods of welding. As it is a self-feeding machine, it works for longer than the stick welders. Also, the usability of this type of welder is considerably better than the others. From thick to thin, this welding machine works on every metal.